Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Lions pull within a game of PL-leading Hawks

Seibu's Tomoya Mori smacks winning homer in seventh in series-opening victory over Fukuoka SoftBank

Kyodo

Tomoya Mori belted a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning to lead the second-place Seibu Lions to a 4-2 win over the Pacific League-leading Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Friday.

Mori’s second homer in two days propelled the Lions to within one game of the Hawks after the opener of their three-game series this weekend at MetLife Dome.

With the game tied 2-2, Mori came up with a man on after Sosuke Genda singled with one out. The Lions catcher hit a high outside fastball from Kodai Senga (11-7) down the line in left for an opposite-field home run.

“He’s a genius,” Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji said of Mori’s 20th home run. “The only thing you can say about that is that it was superb.”

The Hawks took a 1-0 lead in the second, when Akira Nakamura put a good swing on a high fastball from Seibu starter Tatsuya Imai. Kenta Imamiya doubled and made it 2-0 in the third inning, scoring from third on a one-out Kenji Akashi single.

The Lions tied it at 2-2 in the fourth, when Shuta Tonosaki blasted a 153 kph heater in the heart of the strike zone and drove it over the left field fence for a two-run shot, scoring Takeya Nakamura as well.

Imai left in the seventh with one out and a runner on second.

With one out and runners on the corners and the infield playing in, Seibu third baseman Nakamura stopped a ball with a dive that saved a run and threw to first for the second out. Right-hander Kaima Taira came in and got a routine grounder to end the inning.

After Mori put the Lions in front, Katsunori Hirai and closer Tatsushi Masuda each pitched a scoreless inning to close it out. Masuda recorded his 23rd save.

Eagles 7, Fighters 2

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Luciano Fernando drove in four runs, while rookie Hayato Yuge (3-2) worked six innings to lead Tohoku Rakuten past Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Buffaloes 10, Marines 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Shuhei Kojima and Kenya Wakatsuki each drove in three runs as Orix rallied to beat Chiba Lotte.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

BayStars 6, Carp 4

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kazuki Kamizato’s two-out, two-run single highlighted Yokohama’s four-run eighth inning in a come-from-behind victory over Hiroshima.

Dragons 7, Swallows 1

At Nagoya Dome, Enny Romero (8-9) struck out six and allowed a run over six innings as Chunichi defeated Tokyo Yakult.

Giants 4, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Yoshihiro Maru homered and drove in three late runs, while four Yomiuri pitchers held Hanshin scoreless over the final eight innings

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